Comprehensive Plan: Federal Elements

Comprehensive Plan: Federal Elements

The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) approved release of the Final Draft Federal Elements of the Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital on October 1, 2015 for a public comment period ending December 7, 2015.  The Committee of 100 submitted comments to NCPC on December 4, 2015 (see below).  Comments applaud the significant work by NCPC on updating the plan with a new focus on vistas and viewsheds, an eloquent introduction, and a general improvement in policies.  However, the comments call for a greater emphasis on the importance of the Height of Buildings Act of 1910 to the shape and livability of Washington, DC, more recognition that Washington, DC is one city with a federal interest in the whole nation’s capital that represents the United States to the world, increased attention to signage and visual clutter, stronger protection for neighborhoods in accommodating foreign missions, and maintaining the current limited Central Employment Area. 

Washington, D.C. is unique in that its Comprehensive Plan is composed of two parts. The Federal Elements are prepared by the staff of the National Capital Planning Commission (a federal agency) and adopted by the Commission. The District Elements are prepared by the D.C. Office of Planning and adopted by the Council of the District of Columbia. Together these two sets of Elements constitute the “Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital”. Preparation of both the Federal and District Elements involve coordination with other District and federal agencies and opportunities for review and comment by organizations, businesses and individuals. The Federal Elements focus on Washington D.C., our capital city, but also address federal planning issues in the National Capital Region (NCR). The District Elements deal only with Washington, D.C.

The present Federal Elements of the Comprehensive Plan were adopted in 2004. For the past several years, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) has been undertaking a major revision and update of the Federal Elements. Individual Elements have been available for review and the Committee of 100 on the Federal City has provided written comments on four of those Elements. The Committee of 100 on the Federal City is abbreviated as the Committee of 100 or C100.

On October 1, 2015, the National Capital Planned Commission voted to release all the new draft Federal Elements in one package for a period of final public review (October 3-December 7, 2015). The Federal Elements package included an Introduction, Urban Design Element, Urban Design Technical Addendum, Federal Workplace Element, Foreign Missions & International Organizations Element, Transportation Elements, Federal Environment Element, Historic Preservation Element, Visitors & Commemoration Element and Action Plan Matrix. An eighth Element, Parks & Open Space, is not in the package, and will be completed in 2016.

All these Elements and other Sections are available on the NCPC website at  The October 1, 2015 Executive Director’s Recommendation on the “Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital: Federal Elements”, is also on the NCPC website. It includes background information and four appendices with a Summary of Policies, Summary of Changed Policies, and a Summary of Public Comments previously made on each Element.


icon C100 Comments Comprehensive Plan For The National Capital Federal Elements - Parks Open Space Element
May 7, 2018, Stephen A. Hansen
We like the new organizational structure, the key principles, the discussion of designed landscapes, and the categorizations of different types of parks and open space with associated policies.  We also applaud the emphasis on protection of the L’Enfant Plan, McMillan Plan, and viewsheds.  The discussion is intelligent and thorough and the policies will be helpful as criteria in helping the Commission make recommendations and decisions on proposed projects.  We have two major and somewhat related concerns:

1.  We are dismayed by the lack of specifics, i.e., any plans or objectives relating to specific park and open space needs or issues.

2.  The revised “goal statement” (p. 3) to “protect and enhance the parks and open space system” does not include an important concept in the 2004 Element i.e., “ensure that adequate resources are available for future generations.”
icon C100 Comments NCPC Federal Elements
December 4, 2015, C100
The Committee of 100 on the Federal City applauds the tremendous amount of work that has been done by the NCPC staff and Commission members, and by cooperating agencies and organizations, to bring the updated Elements and related sections to this point. We appreciate the opportunity to make these final comments on the draft Federal Elements of the Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital. We look forward to seeing the draft of the eighth Element, Parks and Open Space, when that draft element is completed and made available for public review later in 2016.

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